Just in time for the third anniversay of Pope Benedict XVI's election to the papacy, Time magazine's Tim Padgett penned a positively-intentioned yet patronizing defense of why he's "still a Roman Catholic." Suffice it to say Padgett's reasons don't ring with theological clarity or a sense of faith-filled awe at the central and essential claims of Catholicism.
No, Padgett made clear in his April 19 article that his Catholicism is one of personal preference, holding aloft not the Church as herald of the Truth, but its "quieter value" as a community in which to mark life's milestones from cradle to grave (emphasis mine):
CosmoGirl! magazine is a great resource to find out which lip gloss looks best with your prom dress, but it fails miserably as a religious guide. In the May 2008 article "Religion by Design," author Marina Khidekel does not give any indication that she understands the essence of religion: the acknowledgement of a Being greater than the individual, the community, and any earthly concern, who revealed His will to humanity in holy books.
Instead, Khidekel reduces religion to personal preference, endorsing the phenomenon of teens moving away from the organized religion of their families and creating their own belief systems by picking bits from various religions and philosophies, whatever makes them feel good.
Dubbed "Starbucks spirituality," these mix-and-match beliefs could contain "a shot of Catholicism, a sprinkle of Buddhism, a pinch of Hindu teachings – or whatever else [teens] are in the mood for that day."
The left-wing blogosphere's outrage against ABC ["Boycott Fig Newtons!"] over its allegedly unfair questioning of Obama during Wednesday's debate has seeped over into the MSM in the form of Derrick Z. Jackson's Boston Globe column of this morning. While the headline moots the matter in the interrogative "Tough questions or just plain bias?", there's no doubt as to the answer in Jackson's mind. Just two paragraphs in, the columnist unleashes [emphasis added]:
In some 1,600 words of transcript, Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos tried to eviscerate Obama in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
I confess that when the producers of Ben Stein’s new documentary "Expelled" called, offering me a private screening, I was less than excited.
It is a reality of PC liberalism: There is only one credible side to an issue, and any dissent is not only rejected, it is scorned. Global warming. Gay "rights." Abortion "rights." On these and so many other issues there is enlightenment, and then there is the Idiotic Other Side. PC liberalism’s power centers are the news media, the entertainment industry and academia and all are in the clutches of an unmistakable hypocrisy: Theirs is an ideology that preaches the freedom of thought and expression at every opportunity, yet practices absolute intolerance toward dissension.
Evolution is another one of those one-sided debates. We know the concept of Intelligent Design is stifled in academic circles. An entire documentary to state the obvious? You can see my reluctance to view it.
I went into the screening bored. I came out of it stunned.
At 7:16 this morning on Good Morning America, Dan Harris reported on the upcoming Papal Mass from Nationals Park in Washington. "This is a brand new ballpark opened just two and a half weeks ago and this morning it's been transformed into a giant outdoor church. Behind me, in the outfield, there is a 75-foot-high altar."
A 75-foot-high altar? Does that mean the Pope would have to say Mass on 75-foot-high stilts? Clearly, there was a 75-foot-high stage, but the altar was its usual human-friendly height. (Photo by MRC's Michelle Humphrey.) It's frightening that ABC is putting Dan Harris on the religion beat, and he doesn't know whan an "altar" is.
Webster's defines it: "In the Christian church, a construction of stone, wood, or other material for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist; the communion table." This is a massive blooper to anyone who attends a church with an altar.
Isn't there a minor league that ABC can demote Dan Harris to, so he can devote a few weeks to his game, learn a little research, do a little reporter rehab?
AP's Laurie Kellman reported an entire story Wednesday night on "Abortion-rights lawmakers to receive communion," but nowhere in the story was an American quoted in opposition to granting communion to pro-abortion politicians. The angle for the story was that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others planned to receive communion at the Papal Mass in D.C., when Pope Benedict has been supportive of denying the sacrament to abortion supporters. This paragraph stuck out:
Benedict's stance on abortion and Communion has been painful for elected officials who inhabit the troubled zone where Catholicism and their political beliefs intersect.
It would be just as true to state "Pelosi's stance on abortion and Communion has been painful for church officials," but that's not the ideological flow coming out of AP. Instead, Kellman quoted John Kerry plugging the opportunity of the papal trip to foster discussion on "poverty, disease, and despair," which in his mind probably doesn't include despair over pro-abortion politicians ever considering whether their position needs to better reflect their chosen faith.
When John Paul II traveled to Syria in 2000, he became the first pope ever to visit a mosque. He stood in Damascus's Umayyad Masjid, kissed the Qur'an and stated, "For all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and to offer each other forgiveness." It's no wonder many Muslims look back on John Paul's reign as the golden days of interfaith relations--and as Pope Benedict XVI's first few years as anything but.
The police estimated that 750,000 people saw Mr. Mandela at one point or another - 50,000 in Queens at Kennedy International Airport and along the route, 100,000 as he passed through Brooklyn, 400,000 along the ticker-tape parade and 200,000 in the ceremony at City Hall. Hundreds of thousands more saw the events broadcast live on local television.
Based on early returns from the Washington Post and the New York Times, we may not see such an estimate regarding the pope, unless some enterprising non-media types come up with one on their own. It also seems that we will have to brace ourselves for other descriptions designed to minimize the impact of his visit.
Just a puny personal pronoun, yet one that perhaps spoke volumes about MSM attitudes toward religion. On the occasion of the Mass that Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating later day at DC's Nationals Park, Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez interviewed Father Thomas Williams, a Roman Catholic priest who also serves as a CBS religion analyst.
For the liberal media, even a subject as seemingly innocuous as a nice spring day can suddenly turn into a PC minefield should it put an MSMer in the position of having to recognize God's work, as this exchange suggests.
Thank heavens. Pope Benedict XVI has finally stepped off of Shepherd One onto American soil to begin a six day visit that is sure to be everything the American left hopes to make it out to be. The media is working overtime to resurrect old wounds, create some new controversies and repeat liberal talking points that so perfectly judges a man as only the selective memory of liberal hypocrisy has the ability to do.
And just in time too. What better way to take the pressure off of Barack Obama’s Rev. JeremiahWright controversy than to reignite the flames of the Catholic Church priest sex scandal? Finally, a target has appeared that is worthy of the left’s criticism and utter disdain. If only he had visited 2 or 3 weeks back.
I had at one time thought that the mainstream media had been pretty well represented by articles filled with your typical leftist anti-Christian/anti-Pope Benedict slant. To see examples of such bias we need only stop by the magnifying glass of Wikipedia. Their archive and discussion pages are unique in the way in which they channel common themes that circulate in the public realm of the left; a sort of lib-cyclopedia if you will.
On Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to liberal priest, Fr. Thomas Reese, who also appeared on Monday’s show, and asked about the sex abuse scandals in the American Catholic Church as well as the comments of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the issue: "We heard from some victims' families that a mea culpa is not enough. That merely saying you're "deeply ashamed" is not enough. Do you think anything more will come of this?"
This question followed a report by correspondent Jeff Glor, who began by declaring:
It's believed the Pope could address the issue even further on his visit, either here in Washington or in New York, but some are wondering, why not Boston? For Gary Bergeron, the Pope not going to Boston on this trip is like saying the Pope's not Catholic. It just doesn't make sense... Bergeron was abused and still lives in New England, the epicenter of the scandal.
Glor also played clips of Bergeron, who said of the Pope: "I think it's an opportunity he missed...I would hold out my hand to him so that he could shake it, understand that I'm not the demon here." Of course, the Pope has not "demonized" any victims of abuse, but Glor still decided to use the quote for his report. Despite Rodriguez’s claim that "not enough" had been done, Bergeron actually helped win an $85 million dollar lawsuit for church abuse victims and met personally with Vatican officials.
Pope Benedict XVI is in America and, like his predecessor, is about to be treated to curiously bipolar coverage at the hands of the American press. While in-country, John Paul the Great received almost universally positive treatment. But up to the point the papal wheels touched down, the media reports were consistently critical – some verging on the savage – and when it was wheels-up, the press immediately returned to their old ways.
The tone this time around will not be so much “news” as the recycled template that our journalistic elite imposes on every papal visit to America in the last thirty years. The usual surveys will be taken off the shelves, dusted, and re-re-represented. Catholics are leaving the Church. Catholics who remain aren’t attending Mass. Vocations are dwindling.
All three broadcast networks on Tuesday led their evening news programs with Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival at Andrews Air Force Base to begin his visit to the U.S., as well as his comments during a press conference on the plane about the priest sex abuse scandal. ABC’s "World News" and CBS’ "Evening News" especially focused on the scandal. In addition to this, "World News" also highlighted what the Pope said about illegal immigration during the press conference and gave a false impression of what the Pope had said on the issue.
ABC correspondent Dan Harris gave the following spin on Benedict XVI’s comments on immigration. "Also on the plane, the Pope addressed another hot issue, immigration. Hispanics are the fastest-growing part of the American church right now, and the Pope said he would discuss this issue with the President, particularly the 'dangerous' impact of families of illegal immigrants being separated."
On Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric asked Father Thomas Williams (formerly an NBC expert) to comment on Pope Benedict's arrival in America. Couric, who fretted out loud in 2006 about Catholic orthodoxy "infringing on civil liberties" in a new Florida town, stressed to the priest that the Pope was "extremely conservative," and "very conservative," and at odds with "62 percent of Catholics" who say the church doesn't reflect their views. It's a little strange for an anchor to note someone else is "out of touch" with the public when their network is consistently dragging behind in third in the ratings.
After two generic questions about what the Pope is like, and whether succeeding John Paul II is a tough act to follow, like Gordon Brown replacing Tony Blair as British prime minister, Couric brought up Benedict's first two papal encyclicals, deep intellectual tracts that aren't easy to characterize for TV anchors:
One constant refrain in media coverage of papal visits is the insistence that the Pope is out of touch with American Catholics. The front page of Tuesday's Washington Post promsied a story on how "Pope Benedict XVI will confront a sense among some Catholics that the Roman Catholic Church is not in sync with their views." A bar graph showed a poll result:
Q. In general do you think the Roman Catholic Church is in touch the views of Catholics in America today, or out of touch? (Among Catholics)
NOW: In touch 34 % / Out of touch 62 %
APRIL 2005: In touch 44 % / Out of touch 52 %
But you'd have to turn to the 14th and very last paragraph of Jon Cohen's story on Page A-6 to learn this poll has a whopping margin of error of six points plus or minus:
On Tuesday's "Good Morning America," news anchor Chris Cuomo used the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to label the pontiff as uncompromising and assert that the Catholic Church sees the visit as "an opportunity for the Pope to come here and reinforce hard-line doctrine." Earlier in the segment, Cuomo described Benedict as "a hard-liner charged with protecting Catholic orthodoxy."
Cuomo also went on to claim that the Pope's goal is to strike a balance "between placating conservative followers and giving hope to liberals who seek social reform." The ABC journalist went on to mention the pontiff's background and note, "Born in Germany, Benedict's seminary studies were interrupted by World War II when, reluctantly, he says, he became a member of the Hitler youth and the Nazi army..." Cuomo provided no elaboration on that statement, but, as a New York Times AP report stated in April of 2005, then-Joseph Ratzinger was indeed reluctant about Germany's war:
In an interview with Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George about the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith was concerned about the reaction of the American people to the new pontiff: "Explain the difference between the private man and the public Pope that some Americans are maybe even a little unsure or fearful of."Monday’s "Early Show" identified the Pope as a "hard liner" numerous times. [Audio available here]
Smith went on to ask about the priest pedophilia scandals and if the Pope’s mission was meant to "heal" those scandals: "The Pope was talking to reporters about priest abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States, and he said, quote, "we are deeply ashamed and we'll do whatever is possible so that this does not happen in the future." Is this -- this trip to the United States, would you say that this -- part of the mission of this church is some healing?"
Finally, Smith concluded the interview by asking Cardinal George about the Pope’s opposition to the Iraq war: "He is going to be addressing the United Nations, he's going to be speaking to the President of the United States in private chambers. Among the messages of the Catholic Church is an anti-war message. Will he deliver that to President Bush?" The Cardinal responded by explaining: "He is eager, however, that whatever happens next is good for the Iraqi people, that they can live in peace and that we don't leave a very violent Iraq behind. So I'm sure the conversation won't just be anti-war or pro war, it'll be what do we do next?"
A woman in the throes of passion, a crucifix, and a book, presumably a Bible with a cross emblazoned on the cover. Those are the elements of a photo illustration (via PhotoDisc) gracing ABCNews.com's front page and teasing an article entitled "Christian Sex: Holy and Hot!"
Published the same day Pope Benedict XVI is set to arrive in Washington, D.C., the article's timing in and of itself might turn heads. Of course the subject matter -- how Christian ministers approach preaching and teaching on sex and romance in the context of marriage -- is in and of itself perfectly fine for a general news publication. But the illustration in question is, to say the least, uncalled for.
On Monday, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson highlighted and seemed to glorify anti-America comments made by a young Egyptian woman, whom the show interviewed as part of a regular series about young people in other countries, who compared the States to a dumb "jock" that in a few years will "die down and burn out, and what's left is a totally useless nation."
The young woman, named Ro'ya, charged: "In the past, if the States was a strong country, it was because it had thinkers, but right now, it's kind of like, it's kind of like a jock, okay -- very powerful, very athletic, in a couple of years, die down and burn out, and what's left is a totally useless nation." Without challenge, Weir added: "Ro'ya says she would only live in America if it would help Americans understand the Arab world. She'd much rather move to Italy..." (An online version of the story can be found at ABCNews.com.) (Transcript follows)
At the beginning of Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "Coming to America. Pope Benedict XVI arrives on American soil tomorrow. How will Americans receive his hard line and soft style?" In the later segement, correspondent Allen Pizzey continued the "hard line" theme: "Since becoming Pope Benedict XVI three years ago, the man who used to be the Vatican's chief hard-liner has undergone an image makeover...when Americans see him next week, they may get a pleasant surprise."
Pizzey went on to describe the Pope’s "makeover":
Benedict has made what one ambassador to the Holy See called a smooth transition from scholar to universal pastor. It may not quite fit the miracle category, but it is nonetheless an extraordinary transition for a man who was once known as God's Rottweiler. As Pope he has not gone out of his way to appease the more liberal wings of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but Benedict's chief image maker is unfazed.
Following Pizzey’s report, co-host Julie Chen interviewed left-wing priest, Father Thomas Reese, who was editor of the Catholic magazine "America," until the Vatican pressured him to resign for allowing numerous liberal opinion pieces critcizing the Church to be published.
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show,"a story on the controversial comments by Barack Obama that people in small Pennsylvania towns are "bitter," was introduced by co-host Julie Chen this way: "The battle among Democrats and Hillary Clinton's relentless attempt to turn Barack Obama's words against him." Rather than focus on what Obama actually thinks about small town voters, correspondent Dean Reynolds followed with a report in which he declared:
Clinton hammered Obama all weekend over his suggestion that Americans from small economically hard pressed towns turn inward, become bitter, and cling to their guns or their religious faith during tough times, rather than look to Washington for leadership. Clinton, who is trying to hold on to what polls say is a slim lead here in Pennsylvania, said she found the statement demeaning, even snobbish. And she said so just about everywhere she went.
With Obama looking like the victim, Reynolds went on to briefly mention that the Illinois Senator apologized for the comments: "Obama was thrown on the defensive, forced to acknowledge his words were clumsy and later to apologize if he offended anyone." However, Reynolds immediately followed with the Obama campaign’s defense: "But he said his opponent was intentionally twisting his meaning...Obama also said Clinton's attempt to paint him as the sportsman's adversary and herself as their champion was laughable."
Can it be a coincidence that just hours after Bob Novak published his column reporting that it's unclear just who is directing Hillary's campaign--Mark Penn or Geoff Garin--the latter dashed off an email to supporters claiming to be in charge? But if Garin really does have the reins, why is the campaign employing tactics that Novak suggests would be worthy of the "kamikaze" Penn?
Bill Maher, true to form on his "Real Time" program on HBO on Friday, went on a tirade against Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, only days before the Pope’s visit to the U.S.. He stated that the Pope "used to be a Nazi" and compared him to a cult leader. He then went on to call the Church a "child-abusing religious cult" and "the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia." "And that’s the Church’s attitude: 'We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,' which is fine, far be it from me to criticize religion."
Following a profanity-tinged one-liner concerning the raid on the Texas compound of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Maher quipped, "In fact, whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God’s infallible wingman here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That’s right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he’s single!" At the "funny hat" line, Maher displayed a picture of Pope Benedict wearing a wide-brimmed hat called a saturno
Do we all get free wooden shoes? Barack Obama didn't say. But he does have an Impossible Dream to cut poverty that would make Don Quixote proud. Put people to work . . . building windmills. His idea came in response to a question at last night's Compassion Forum on CNN from Jim Wallis, a leading member of the religious left whose focus is "social justice." Wallis wanted Obama to commit to a new War on Poverty.
JIM WALLIS: As you reminded us a week or two ago, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed 40 years ago, he wasn't just speaking about civil rights. He was fighting for economic justice. Was about to launch a poor people's campaign. Yet, four decades after the anniversary of his death, the poverty rate in America is virtually unchanged and 1 in 6 of our children are poor in the richest nation in the world. So in the faith community, we are wanting a new commitment around a measurable goal, something like cutting poverty in half in ten years. Would you commit -- would you at this historic compassion forum, commit to such a goal tonight and if elected, tell us how you would mobilize the nation, mobilize us to achieve that goal?
Surely, you'd think, the candidate wouldn't fall into that big-government trap. Think again . . .
On World News Sunday, ABC anchor Dan Harris filed a report on Pope Benedict's upcoming trip to America, labeling the Catholic leader as "sometimes controversial," and calling him a "hard-liner" for "strenuously condemning divorce, homosexuality, and abortion." Harris also suggested that he has a "tin ear" because of a 2006 speech in which he used a quotation of a historical figure calling Islam "evil" that sparked riots by Muslim extremists around the world, without mentioning that the Pope later clarified that it was not his personal view that Islam is evil. (Transcript follows)
Before a commercial break, Harris plugged the story: "And coming up here on World News this Sunday, who is Pope Benedict? The sometimes controversial Pope comes to America this week."
You might think MSM support for the raid by Texas state authorities on the polygamist compound in Eldorado would be a slam dunk. After all, the religion involved is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Not just Mormons: fundamentalists Mormons! Throw in patriarchy and allegations of exploitation of young women, and surely the feminist-inspired liberal media would be cheering on the bust.
But not so fast. Support this intervention, and perhaps a precedent is established for restrictions on unorthodox family arrangements of a more PC tint.
Take the comments of Jonathan Turley on today's Good Morning America. The George Washington law school professor went so far as to strongly suggest that the ban on polygamy is unconstitutional. And co-anchor Bill Weir was anything but unsympathetic to Turley's arguments.